"To live in the world without becoming aware of the meaning of the world is like wandering about in a great library without touching the books.".....The Secret Teachings of All Ages

Thursday, December 26, 2013


To say I was not in the Christmas spirit this year is a mild understatement. That probably had a lot to do with the fact that I had been cabin bound for over two weeks due to the glacier of ice on the dirt road leading out of our place. My husband took the only ride that would get off the property, so I was stuck. No outings, no shopping, nadda. When it came time to put up the decorations, I was bitching and whinging about how pointless it all was, and why was I even bothering. At one point I even ended up sitting on the couch in tears, with Robert giving me that, "Hmmm, must be a hormonal moment" look.

But I battled on, put up some decorations, and hoped that the ice would clear up in time for the champagne brunch planned for Christmas day. Last year it got postponed until New Years because we still had five inches of snow on the ground, and the small cars my family drives would not make it up and over the little hill to get to our driveway. I was afraid this year was going to end up being a repeat, this time due to ice. It also occurred to me that, since the weather in December is usually dicey, and our road even dicier, maybe it would be a better idea if we did Christmas in July instead. I could pull out the holiday dishes and we could serve BBQ chicken instead of baked ham.

Mother Nature decided to give us a break, the temps rose to a balmy 45 (I was tempted to break out my shorts!), and the ice finally melted. The brunch was still a "go." And it turned out to be a lovely family get-together. Everyone contributed to the meal, we drank mimosas, and after the food, we all sat in front of the television and watched Holiday Inn with Fred Astair and Bing Crosby. This was a real breakthrough, since my family tend to be hit-and-run eaters. Show up for dinner, eat, and bail out before even the sauce on the empty plates has congealed. For them to hang around for almost three hours talking, and then watching (and some sleeping through) a movie was a real feather in my holiday cap.

Here is a photo of the table, before everyone sat down to eat. It's a bit cramped, since my table was originally designed to seat only six. With a little scooching, I can sit eight, but there were nine of us, so I ended up sitting on the end, with a table leg between my knees. Now that the holiday feasting is over, my dining room will revert back to a sewing room.

In the back corner is Inara, wearing my Spanish surcoat, made 30+ years ago. I have pulled it out of retirement and am making an under-dress to wear with it. I used to wear a shirt and long skirt with it, but the shirt fell apart, and the skirt is too tight (and is black with miles of gathers, sewn with black thread, and the thought of ripping all that out and trying to resew it gave me a headache), so I am making a lovely, off-white linen under-dress, which is what the garment would originally have been worn with anyway. That whole project is for an SCA Hogmanay feast (traditional Scottish New Year celebration) coming up January 4th.

As for the coming new year, I suspect it will be pretty much a repeat of 2013 = riding and mounted archery, sewing, beading, drawing, jewelry making, and going to various SCA and horse events. Maybe adding in some experiments with new art techniques or supplies. I have more costumes ideas in the works as well (too much time spent on Pinterest looking at costume eye-candy is to blame), to replace or supplement the old costumes we are still wearing, some of them looking pretty shabby.

So Happy New Year to those who stop by, and wishing you all the best in the coming months. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Icicles and a Another Drawing

Went out this morning and took some pictures of the icicles around our place. We rarely get these, even if it snows, but it's been so cold lately, that we now have quite a collection.

Here are a few of the formations hanging off the undercarriage of my husband's truck.


Here is one hanging off the eves of our house, right as you come up the steps to the front deck. I just hope no one is standing under it when it lets go! But I don't have the heart to knock it down. I want to see how much longer it will get. Right now it's at about two feet.

Then there is the ice out at the barn. This has become a real problem, as the water buckets in the stalls, and the troughs out in the pastures freeze over. Currently, three times a day and sometimes four, we are having to carry warm water out to the barn in a Sparklets bottle to fill the stall buckets. We recently had to give up on the pasture troughs. They are so packed with ice we can't use them, and have no way to get warm water out to them. And tonight "they" tell us it may get down as low as 10 degrees.

And, since it's too cold and icy to be outside much, I did another drawing, trying to keep to my promise to myself that I would draw as often as possible. For this one, I used a photo from a magazine for the pose.

And, that's it in the land of the frozen! Hope we get a thaw soon, 'cause I'm getting really tired of toting gallons of warm water out to the barn.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


One of the things I really want to get back into is drawing. I have been concentrating on jewelry and hand sewing so much, that the drawing has been on the back burner for several years. So the other night I sat on the couch, and using a big book on tiaras as a lap board, and using some cheap printer paper, I started playing. This is what I came up with.

I'd seen a photo of a woman with the shapes of trees behind her and liked the image. As I started drawing this, I noticed that instead of the trees behind her, I had drawn the trees growing from her head, their roots tangled in her hair. Not sure what this means, as I wasn't thinking too hard about the drawing, knowing things would be pretty rough after all this time. But I like the way it turned out, and can't wait to do more playing with a pencil.

I will be making a big effort to draw at least one figure a day. May not happen, but no fewer than one a week. We'll see how things go.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Horses in Snow

Over the past few days temps have dropped and snow has fallen. Everything is pretty icy right now, but at least the sun it out. I took these photos of our two horses the first day we turned them out after a whole day of snowfall. They had a grand time chasing each other before finally calming down and getting to work pushing the snow out of the way so they could get to the grass underneath.

Miss snownose, Delight. 

Mr. Snowplow, Apollo.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tales of Abandoned Art Journals

I love the idea of art journals. I love the art and creativity people display in their art journals. I greatly admire those who can stick with their journals year after year, and fill a wall of shelves full of artful books. I wish I could...but...I can't.

Oh, I have good intentions. I start them with enthusiasm, vowing to myself that this will be the year I actually fill a whole book. Out comes the ephemera I have collected for just such an occasion. Out come the pencils, pens, glue, stickers, stamps, clip art, words of wisdom, and whatever else I have close to hand. Everything goes gangbusters for about a month...maybe two. Rarely three. Pages get filled with all kinds of things, and I think, "Wow, here we go, it's actually going to work this time!" Then I get sidetracked, loose interest, don't think I have anything worth writing about, and think the previous artwork is total drivel that no one is going to be interested in, especially if it doesn't even interest me. The artwork gets less and less, and the writing about my day, which for the most part is pretty boring, is all that's left. Then I abandon the thing altogether. I have quite the collection of half-filled journals. The only one I did manage to finish was during a time I call The Year From Hell, but since it is so full of angst and bad memories, I have seriously considered ceremonially burning it.

About six years ago I got involved in an art journal exchange. Actually, over a period of three years the group did three exchanges. It was a disaster. People dropped out halfway through. Some artists went whole hog on pages, others decided a few stickers were enough, and the whole-hoggers felt cheated. Books weren't passed on time. Books got lost or were kept by one of participants who then dropped off the map. I was lucky and got all three of my books back, but many others were not, and it left a really bad taste in everyone's mouth, including mine. I swore I would never do another journal exchange, even if I was threatened with Sharpies shoved under my fingernails.

 You will notice that two of these journal from that long ago exchange have lots of dangly things from the spines. That was sort of my trademark with these, and as the books went around, other participants would add more, which was really fun. However, my last journal has no danglies, mine or from anyone else, because one of the participants decided that all those danglies got in the way of his "fine art" drawings, removed them, and threw them away. I was NOT happy when I found out, and that act of snobbery was the final nail in the coffin of me ever doing another exchange.

A few years back I joined the Art Journal Challenge web page. Every month a theme would be posted and you would do journal pages to illustrate that theme. Wow, how could I miss? A challenge thrown out there, lots of folks joining in to keep me motivated, and a companion site to show what we all had done. Did that work? Uh.....no. I did awesome, complicated pages for about two months, then...well, you know.

Many artists keep art journals as a form of therapy, idea reference, sketchbook, or as inspiration. Maybe all of the above. I have done them for the same reasons. I have some journals that have a few pages done one year, then the next pages may be something done a year later.  In some cases this goes on for three or four years, then stops, with only half the journal filled. A true testament to my inability to stick with it. And I hate to admit it, but when I see so many people out there doing journals, book after book after book, I have this snarky little voice in my head asking, "What are they going to do with all of those? What is their family going to do with all them? Are the day to day workings or doodles of most of us all that interesting? Really?" I suspect that is a sacrilegious question with most dedicated art journalists. You do it for yourself, they will say. And judging by what I saw on Pinterest when I did a search for Art Journals, there are a ton of people out there "doing it for themselves."

So, to prove that I really do have good intentions, even if they don't last, here are a few pages from my abandoned art journals. What I have discovered over the years, is that I do better with the smaller sized journals. The two large ones pictured are still half full of blank pages.

 The left page of the last one is a print of a collage I did years ago titled The Astronauts Courtesan. On the right is a photo of one of the exchange journals spread out so you can see the back and front. It was a pirate themed exchange, hence Capt. Jack Sparrow on the back and the schooner on the front.

These last two small journal pages are experiments in various imaginary writing types and styles, and forms of maps, all done as ideas for a book I am currently writing titled The Map. The last page on the right is based on old English strip maps. The black lines are the road, and you follow it from top to bottom, then jump to the next strip and keep going, reading it left to right.

Will I ever start another journal? Oh, probably. Maybe a small one. You know, hope always springs eternal. What I really need to do is go back and fill the blank pages of the journals I have previously abandoned. Will I ever manage to finish them?  Possibly, but...don't hold your breath.